Smuggler’s Notch

They saw him slowly making his way towards them. One began to cheer him on. The rest joined and began to clap. Hands in the air, thumbs raised, ‘Hey, well done!’ ‘You made it!’ ‘You finally got here. Didn’t you?!’ ‘Well done buddy!’ One after the other, all of them generously applauded him. He felt as if he has reached Mount Everest. In fact, all he has done is crawl and drag himself and his bike up a hill. It’s some 2200ft climb up the Smuggler’s Notch. He was the youngest of them all and the last one to reach the top. But, all of them enthusiastically acknowledged that he is a crazy guy to have attempted the climb on his fixed gear bike.



We started from Richmond Park and Ride and rode towards Jericho to join the other riders for the ride. The plan is to ride up the Smuggler’s Notch and go down to Stowe, have lunch there and ride back to Richmond via Waterbury. That is supposed to make it a little over 65miles.

The group of twelve riders rode single file like a train on the flats of Underhill. As soon as a climb came up, the train disbanded and everyone got into their comfort gear and started to spin away. We encountered a couple of small climbs followed by downhill rolling before we reached the bottom of Smuggler’s Notch.

While the climb up to the Notch is not comparable to the toughest or the highest around the world, it was also not the easiest. From the moment I’ve confirmed that I will join the others for the ride, I was nervous. It is nearly double the highest climb I’ve done so far in elevation, that too, on one of the longest rides I’ve done so far in Vermont. I was not sure if I am capable of completing the climb on my fixed gear bike. One thing I was sure of was that would be a huge challenge.

Challenge, it certainly was. The road did not seem steep but I could hardly pedal with out getting out of the saddle. Even after getting out of the saddle, it was a huge effort to make the pedals and the wheels move. I had to stop and catch my breath every 100-200mts. As the ascent kept on coming, the frequency of the stops increased and the distance between them decreased. One by one everyone in the group went past me and I kept grinding up the hill. A couple of riders from opposite direction sped past me coasting. I was almost tempted to turn around and coast downhill behind them. Then, I remembered that I can not coast anyway. Slowly, I resumed my struggle and the bike crawled inch after inch as it reached the top.

The other riders reached the top long before and were well rested before I finally made it up there. They gave me a fantastic reception and made me forget all the pain. After a couple of snaps, we resumed our ride. After a couple of hairpin bends and steep down hills later, the group began to coast on the beautiful route down towards Stowe. I began to spin crazily and enjoyed the long down hill ride till we reached our lunch destination, McCarthy’s in Stowe.

We had sumptuous lunch and some of the riders called it a day from that point while seven of us rode back to Richmond. After the hard ride, we stopped in Jonesville and savored some yummy ice-cream. It was a great ride and a second century on my fixed gear bike.





The total distance: 66.6miles (106.56km)

Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/hivenkat.d/SmugglersNotch20100529#


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